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Continuing the Dialogue on Radioactive Waste Management: Engaging Young Scotland Innovatively

Aims and objectives

This project aimed to identify ICT tools suitable for engaging with young people in dialogue on a complex policy issue. Specifically, it involved the development and testing of appropriate online tools and mechanisms to engage young people in dialogue on radioactive waste management (RWM). Interviews and a literature review informed the research which also involved three scenario-based workshops with groups of young people from across Scotland. The young people assessed a range of “e-engagement” tools on ease of use, appeal, and suitability for purpose; i.e. to help find information, form an opinion, and express their own point of view, whether acting on their own or through a school or youth group meeting. The study was commissioned by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD). It started on 1st February 2004 and finished on 30th June 2004.

The overarching aim of the research was to design, test and develop appropriate materials, means and delivery mechanisms to engage Scottish young people in the debate and dialogue on radioactive waste management. The more detailed objectives were:

  1. to identify up-to-date best practice in electronic participation via a literature and practice review;
  2. to identify up-to-date best practice in engaging young people via a literature and practice review;
  3. to identify and develop prototypes of appropriate materials means and mechanisms to engage young people online in this debate;
  4. to develop an engagement plan for engaging the country’s youth electronically;
  5. to begin to develop an engagement plan for other population groups and the general public, based on the wider application of the findings from the above objectives.

The study comprised 4 main phases:

The Tools

Our study involved developing a variety of tools for e-engagement to a prototype stage that illustrated their role and intended uses. These were then used to encourage and enable young people to “find out” about radioactive waste management, “decide their own point-of-view” by appreciating others, and “have their say” by expressing and exchanging ideas or views on the issues. We identified a shortlist of nine tools in total, these were:

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The Results

Recommended next steps

We believe the current study provides a sound basis for further developing and piloting an e-engagement package complemented by further work to assess that pilot as outlined below.

This study has usefully developed our understanding of the use of ICT to engage young people. The lessons learnt through this work are equally applicable to engaging young people on other complex issues. This ‘wider application’ of e-engagement is an important result of the study.

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